Ski and Snowboard Gear

The Essentials

    Photo: Shana Novak

THE SEASON'S BEST PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING GEAR
1. Booster's aftermarket bootstrap helps alleviate shin bang and increases your boot's shock absorption in cruddy snow. $28; skimetrix.com 2. CW-X's Stabilyx compression tights provide more support than regular long underwear, and this three-quarter-length model won't bunch up around your boots. $86; cw-x.com 3. Because they're better at wicking moisture and letting the liners insulate, ultrathin socks like Bridgedale's Micro Fit are warmer than they appear. Plus, they don't get compressed into the soft tissue of your feet, like thick socks do. $20; bridgedale.com 4. Of all the goggles we tested for this year's Winter Buyer's Guide, Smith's frameless I/O had the best clarity and peripheral vision. $160; smithoptics.com 5. Völkl's Unlimited AC50 skis, one of our favorite all-mountain types, come with Marker's new, integrated Motion iPT Wide Ride binding system, which is 30 percent wider than conventional bindings. This translates to wicked power transfer to the skis' edges. $1,175; volkl.com 6. Simply adding a heat-moldable, semi-custom footbed like Sole's Regular Softec can dramatically improve the fit and comfort of your boot. $45; yoursole.com

Fit Tight
Boots that fit well transfer energy to your skis smoothly—and boots that don't fit well hurt. So every serious skier should get his boots professionally fitted. Here, Bob Remiger, of the Boot Doctors, in Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, dishes on how to do it right.

BUY SMART Find a shop that's certified by America's Best Bootfitters (bootfitters.com), an organization of independent fitters.

GET A TIGHT FIT Most new skiers buy oversize boots because they feel good at first. Then the liner packs out. Buy a snug boot. If one area is too tight, a good boot fitter can fix it.

STRETCH THE SHELL If your boot fitter determines that the shell plastic is causing a pressure point, he'll either grind or heat and stretch the shell to modify it.

GET A CUSTOM FOOTBED Stock footbeds don't provide much support, since they're made to fit a wide range of foot types. A custom-built footbed, like Superfeet's Kork Vac ($120; superfeet.com), will keep your foot bones stacked in the strongest possible anatomical position.

GET SIZED Your boot fitter will have you put your bare foot into a shell with the liner removed. Slide your foot forward until your toes touch the front. If the fitter can put his index and middle finger between your heel and the shell, the size is correct.

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